Fallon facing Derby choice

Tuesday could be D-Day for Kieren Fallon as to what he rides in the Vodafone Derby at Epsom on Saturday.

Tuesday could be D-Day for Kieren Fallon as to what he rides in the Vodafone Derby at Epsom on Saturday.

The jockey, seeking a fourth triumph in the premier Classic, has the pick of the five possibles from Aidan O’Brien’s stable – Septimus, Horatio Nelson, Mountain, Dylan Thomas and Altius.

However, he could also partner the Sir Michael Stoute-trained Papal Bull, who was supplemented at the five-day confirmation stage at a cost of £75,000 (€109,334).

The latter – like the O’Brien entries – are owned by the Coolmore and Ballydoyle trio of John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor.

“They work in the morning. I think I’m riding all the horses in work,” Fallon told Racing UK.

“Of Aidan’s, it’s hard to say which is best. Horatio Nelson has the best form but the others will definitely be suited by the longer distance.

“I don’t think the ground will be a worry for any of them. I think we’ll end up with good ground. I think it will be whichever works best.

“It’s going to be soft ground at Ballydoyle so it’s going to be difficult to get an accurate feel. We’ll just see.

“After they have worked I’ll sit down with Aidan and I’ll probably ride whatever he wants me to ride.

“Aidan’s a good judge and if I leave it to him I can’t blame myself.

“I see Sir Michael Stoute has supplemented Papal Bull which is a horse I think highly of. It’ll be a tough one. He’ll have to be an option. I was impressed with him at Chester (when winning the Vase).

“If I’d have gone a furlong earlier he would have put distance between himself and his rivals. If that had happened he’d be a leading fancy as well.

“I haven’t sat on Papal Bull (since Chester). He’s not a work horse. He’s a typical Montjeu in that he saves himself for the racecourse.

“He surprised us at Newmarket so it would be a waste of time sitting on him.”

Fallon revealed he would not be upset if he was on the wrong one on Saturday.

“It doesn’t really make any difference to me on the day. I’d like to ride the winner of the Derby again but if we have the winner he is going to be there the rest of the season, maybe the following year too, so I just hope we can win the Derby,” he added.

Papal Bull is as low as 9-1 for the Derby as bookmakers fear history could repeat itself at Epsom.

Three years ago, Stoute added Kris Kin to the field and he famously landed a gamble with Fallon in the saddle.

Twenty-two remain in the race but only a maximum of 20 runners can go to post and up to two reserves are allowed at the final declaration stage on Thursday.

Totesport spokesman Damian Walker said: “When Sir Michael Stoute supplements a horse for the Derby you have got to sit up and take note.

“Papal Bull’s owners already had a strong hand prior to Papal Bull’s inclusion, so the Stoute horse deserves the utmost respect.”

Stoute, has also left in Best Alibi as he bids for a fifth Derby triumph following Shergar (1981), Shahrastani (1986), Kris Kin (2003) and North Light (2004).

His first two Derby winners were for the Aga Khan. The owner, who has also tasted Epsom glory with Kahyasi (1988) and Sinndar (2000), seeks a fifth success through hot favourite Visindar.

Andre Fabre’s colt aims to be the first French-trained winner since Empery 30 years ago. Fabre is also set to be represented by Lingfield Derby Trial winner Linda’s Lad.

Linda’s Lad, for whom Frankie Dettori was booked after Godolphin announced it would not have a runner in the race, is to complete his preparations for the Classic in France.

Herve Barjot, racing manager to the colt’s owner Sean Mulryan, said: “Obviously we’re delighted that Frankie was free to ride our colt and the first time he will sit on him will be in the paddock at Epsom.

“Mr Fabre doesn’t tend to work his Derby runners on the course and so Linda’s Lad will have a gallop at home.

“I’m sure the course at Epsom will suit him as it is similar to Lingfield where he came down the hill as if he was on rails when winning the trial there.”

Mick Channon will not know until later in the week whether Youmzain will join Championship Point.

Both colts were left in and the West Ilsley trainer believes Predominate Stakes winner Championship Point is his best chance yet of success.

“Championship Point has a touch of class about him and with all the ticks in the right boxes he must have a chance on Saturday,” said Channon.

Youmzain, who reappeared to score at Catterick before finishing third to Dylan Thomas in the Derrinstown Stud Derby Trial at Leopardstown, is owned by Jaber Abdullah, who also has Atlantic Waves (trained by Mark Johnston) in the Derby.

“We will have to see with Youmzain,” added Channon.

“Mr Abdullah has both horses entered and might want to have just the one runner. If Youmzain does go I imagine he’ll be ridden by Tony Culhane. Ted Durcan will ride Championship Point.”

Sir Percy and Olympian Odyssey, second and third in the Stan James 2000 Guineas, stand their ground while Charles Egerton has left in Art Deco, but he is more likely to run in Sunday’s Prix du Jockey Club.

Michael Jarvis will decide after Hala Bek has worked on Wednesday whether the Halling colt takes his chance.

Easy winner of his debut at Newbury, he has been involved in a race against time to make it to post after scoping badly a fortnight ago.

Jarvis gave him a gallop at the end of last week and revealed he will put further work into Hala Bek.

“He’ll do a little bit on Wednesday but it will only be a blow out. The horse is fit enough and we’ll make up our minds after that,” said the Newmarket trainer.

The Derby acceptors are completed by Before You Go, Dragon Dancer, Noddies Way, Sienna Storm, Sixties Icon ad Snoqualmie Boy.

More in this section


Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox